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How To Spot A Toxic Employee

Spotting A Toxic Employee | Great Hire Staffing & Recruiting

According to Inc., “Good employees are 54% more likely to quit when they work with a toxic employee.” Finding quality workers is hard enough; don’t let the bad apples push out your best and brightest. Whether you are an employment agency or a business, recognizing toxic or problematic employees is crucial to maintaining a productive and healthy work environment.

The internet is full of horror stories of terrible employees causing havoc in workplaces. It’s best to nip that problem in the bud. Remember, there are always staffing agencies available to fill the hole of a recently departed bad egg. Read on to find out how to spot the problem child in your office.

The best time to identify a toxic employee is before you hire them. Naturally, this would occur during the interview or hiring process. Unfortunately, spotting toxic tendencies can be difficult in brief interactions during interviews. Many times the most rotten apples are very adept at hiding their foibles.

Hiring managers should be on the lookout for a lack of civility. That sounds broad but a person’s general continence is a good measuring stick for the type of person they are. Instead of throwing hypotheticals at them, ask for specific instances of how they handled conflict in previous jobs.

They may have a stock answer for that, so ask for more than one example. Understanding how they treat people, especially in contentious situations, is another tell-tale sign. The more spontaneous the answer, the closer you are to meeting who they really are. Here are a few example questions:

  • What would you change about your previous employment?

  • What would your last boss say about you? Positives and Negatives.

  • What stresses did you have at your last job? How did you handle them?

  • What instances did you have disagreements with coworkers? How did you handle them?

Most of these questions are aimed at the interviewee to talk about negative experiences. How they interpret those situations is telling. Do they blame others, or take some blame upon themselves?

Can they present past issues without pointing fingers? Do they take credit for how the problems were resolved?

Unfortunately, no chart can tell you whether someone will be a good or bad employee. Going with your gut, especially if it has a good track record, isn’t a bad idea. If you aren’t sure, calling up past employers is a natural start.

Spotting Toxic Temp Employees | Great Hire Staffing & Recruiting

The Cost Of Rotten Apples

A toxic employee can spread ill-will around an office like the flu. Furthermore, they can cost businesses money through their dissent. According to, “Hiring just one toxic employee into a team of 20 costs a company approximately $12,800 in employee turnover and decreased productivity. In comparison, a non-toxic hire costs only $4,000.”

According to some, that number is way too low. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, the shoe company, estimated that the cost of bad hires were, “Well over $100 million.” Jörgen Sundberg, a well-known recruiter, puts the cost at 240,000. The department of labor estimates the cost is at least 30% of the employee's first-year earnings. For many companies, even one bad hire can put the business at risk.

What To Look For At Work:

Identifying problematic employees is rarely based on a single characteristic or attribute. Typically, they are a confluence of different issues that repeatedly rub those around them the wrong way. We’ve compiled a list of problematic behavior to watch out for:

  • His or her co-worker have a low opinion of them: If multiple people in the office express their resentment at how little they do, or doubt over whether something will get done, that’s a big red flag.

  • Unsolicited complaints: If co-workers are complaining or lamenting various issues about someone, you should probably keep an eye on that.

  • Always passing the buck: If an employee, always has an answer for why something didn’t get done and it’s never their fault, that’s another red flag.

The bottom line is bad employees are easy to spot but only if you know where to look. Many times upper management is so busy that they aren’t in touch with their employees. Spending a few minutes here and there with different workers is the best way to take the temperature of an office. If everyone has complaints about a single person, chances are they are the problem child. Listening to your employees is the key to keeping a harmonious office.

A staffing agency can work wonders for companies who need gaps filled but don’t have the resources for full-time hires. Also known as temp agencies or employment agencies, these staffing services used to have a negative connotation of taking advantage of unskilled laborers. Thankfully, those days have changed as many staffing services offer skilled workers and business flexibility in various complex fields of work. The American Staffing Association reports that Staffing Agency employment is at an 11 year high.

Great Hire provides temp staffing services in the greater Los Angeles are and Recruiting services Nationwide.

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